Rodriguez on “Departed’

Miami Herald critic Rene Rodriguez has seen Martin Scorsese‘s The Departed here in Toronto, and he’s calling itclass-A pulp…grave, resonant, psychologically complex and acted to the skies.”
And that’s not all: “Anyone who’s been waiting for Scorsese to return to form after the Oscar-baiting turgidness of The Aviator and Gangs of New York won’t be disappointed,” he’s written. “This is Scorsese’s best and most invigorating work since the underrated Casino, if not GoodFellas, as well as his most sheerly entertaining.”
If Rodriguez is on the money, then what is Warner Bros. publicity’s problem? They’ve got something that allegedly works on a feisty-pulpy crime-movie level and yet they send out signals left and right that it’s got issues, that they’re concerned about reactions (as indicated by a clear reluctance to show it), that “it’s not a festival movie,” etc.?
Rodriguez’s view is just the first word and he may end up 180 degrees apart from the eventual general consensus (or not), but if he’s right WB publicity has created a totally unnecessary neg-head smokescreen about this film.
If on the other hand what Rodriguez is saying appears in hindsight to have been a bit too breathless, then what WB has been doing makes sense…I guess….but this is becoming more and more fascinating by the minute.

21 thoughts on “Rodriguez on “Departed’

  1. Nicol D on said:

    Of course the flip side could be that if it truly is an entertaining film that could be a financial hit, maybe having it in a festival could hurt that.
    Too many festival kudos could say boring, turgid Oscar wannabe to the public and hurt Box Office.
    We’ll see soon enough.

  2. The source material they were working from should be hard to mess up. Infernal Affairs was one of the best HK films of the last decade. Does anyone know if The Departed draws from just the first film or the entire trilogy?

  3. Perhaps WB is taking a more laid-back approach to the marketing of this film. With Scorcese’s last 2 films, we seemed to be beaten over the head with the whole Oscar crap. Story after story was about how “It’s finally time for Scorcese to win an Oscar”, or, “Isn’t it a shame that the great Scorcese has never won one?”.
    Maybe WB has decided not to take that route because it didn’t work before, and frankly, I’m sick of it already.
    Perhaps even Scorcese himself said, in a manner, “fuck the Oscar-run, just release this picture and hopefully the quality of the film will sell itself this time. I’m sick and tired of this Oscar-race crap!”
    …at least… I ‘hope’ that’s the case…

  4. I hope so, too. After the last go-round, Scorsese seemed pretty resolved to the idea that he and the Oscars would not necessarily be friends. It would be nice to see him jettison the ultimately counter-productive desire to win a statue.
    I’m there as soon as it opens. I hope it’s another great ride with Marty.

  5. I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll catch hell for it, but “Infernal Affairs,” though entertaining and slick, was overrated.

  6. “Too many festival kudos could say boring, turgid Oscar wannabe to the public and hurt Box Office.”
    That would be suggesting that the public cares in the least about film festival reactions.
    Fests are simply a circle jerk for the industry; a rodeo for journalists to compete for the proverbial quickening (aka the all-holy early review).

  7. Many of the hardcore Asian action films are vastly overrated but are name dropped by fan boy types to show how ‘elite’ they are.
    Oldboy was another fan-boy wank fest that hardly merited the hype. They just like the gore and perversion.

  8. There’s a very simple reason why THE DEPARTED isn’t screening at any festivals: It doesn’t need to. There’s plenty of anticipation about it already (certainly from the crowd that would pay attention to festivals — if Middle America doesn’t know much about it, chances are festival kudos would do nothing for them anyway.) A festival screening, especially someplace like Toronto, in front of thousands of critics, press, bloggers, and average folk, just invites a mixed response — because no movie ever scores 100% with these folks.
    So instead of weeks of hyper scrutiny over advance press and reviews, I actually believe it’s better to just let the critics see it when they ordinarily would — a couple of weeks before the whole thing goes wide.
    That said, given the strangely bad year they’ve had, it wouldn’t be unheard of if the film is suffering from turmoil in the marketing department at Warners. Especially now that THE FOUNTAIN looks like a bomb, this is one of only a handful of movies they have left this year.

  9. People are stoked about this film – that’s why they aren’t sending it to festivals. I was in a Columbia, SC bar on Friday night, and the trailer played on the biggest TV there. For a good five minutes afterward, people were talking about the amazing cast, Scorsese, etc. I mean, really – Who the fuck cares about the Toronto Film Festival except those who are actually there?

  10. D.Z.,
    If Ichi the Killer is the best film you’ve seen in years, than you really do need to get out more.
    I watched this on cable over the weekend. Other than the unending graphic violence, what exactly did you find so great about it?

  11. I think WB is being smart with this one… I mean, The Deparated has Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson and Mark Wahlberg … so they don’t even have to try to convince girlfriends/wives to go see it with their boyfriends/husbands who are in no matter what because it’s a Scorsese crime flick. No need to oversell it.

  12. Josh,
    I agree with you. I think Toronto peaked a year or two ago amd now is on the down slide. I used to think that Toronto was second to Cannes. Last year I was in Britain at this time and listened intently to the BBC for word on TIFF.
    In the 3 weeks I was there, I heard absolutely zero on Toronto. Lots of reporting on Venice, but zippo on TO. Not a blip. It wasn’t even on their radar.
    Now, I would rank TO 4th behind Cannes, Venice and Sundance. TO seems to be more about the industry parties now and the warm-overs from other festivals.
    Maybe its just my perception, but it does seem to have decreased.
    DZ,
    I agree. Miike is a cut above the rest. Audition is a fantastic film.

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